Taking on Ark Times Bloggers on various issues Part N “A discussion of the Woody Allen Movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS”(includes film DEATH BY SOMEONE’S CHOICE)

I have gone back and forth and back and forth with many liberals on the Arkansas Times Blog on many issues such as abortion, human rights, welfare, poverty, gun control  and issues dealing with popular culture. Here is another exchange I had with them a while back. My username at the Ark Times Blog is Saline Republican.

I had asked readers of the Arkansas Times to respond to four questions concerning the Woody Allen movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors and hear a response from Olphart:

As promised or threatened (depending on your point of view), I am posting my response to the movie, Crimes And Misdemeanors. Promised to Saline that is. He keeps throwing this movie out at us as some sort of proof that his brand of Christan Fundamentalism is indeed the proper and only true way to look upon the ways of humanity.

I will have to say that I greatly enjoyed the movie and reccommend it highly, though not for the reasons that Saline touts it. Even though I like Woody Allen, in general, I somehow had missed this one.

As Saline points out, this is indeed a morality tale. I would assert that just about any good movie or work of literature is a morality tale, although Woody Allen makes sure that we can’t miss it here. It is a morality tale writ large. The main plot revolves around a successful opthamoligist who has his ex-mistress murdered because she threatens to expose the infidelity as well as some financial indiscretions she is privy to. Before his fateful decision, he consults his rabbi about what he should do and he also solicits advance from his gangster brother. The rabbi suggests that he admit all to his wife with the hope that, with God’s help, over time it will make their marriage stronger. As you would expect, the brother advises that he could get someone to kill the ex-girlfriend thus resolving the whole problem with very little risk of being caught. The Dr. takes the advice of his brother and the deed is done.

There are a couple of subplots in the movie as well, all involving the moral choices we all have to make on some level or another. Like most Woody Allen movies there’s some good laughs and layer upon layer of irony enough to make your head hurt. Allen plays a hapless documentary film maker named Clifford Stern who keeps trying to woo another woman even though Clifford himself is married. She finally totally rejects him and returns his only love letter. He’s flustered by all this and admits that he copied the whole thing from James Joyce and guesses that all the references to Dublin might have confused her.*

Saline’s assertion is, I think, that there is no “enforcement” here without God in the picture. He suggests that the opthamologist gets off scott free here and does not suffer punishment for his crime. His only evidence, seems to me, is that Woody Allen is a known atheist. Allen, in this movie, doesn’t come to that conclusion at all, he just lays it out there for everybody to ponder and come to his own conclusion. The Dr does, in fact, suffer somewhat from his decision. He does suffer from a lot of guilt about what he’s caused. The question though is still there. Is the suffering from the guilt in this life enough? Again, there is no answer to that question in the movie.

Saline would have us to believe that unless the Dr. accepts Jesus Christ as his own personal savior, before he dies, then his soul will indeed be punished. Even if the Dr. repents, it’s highly unlikely that he would convert to Christianity from Judaism. It’s human nature that he won’t. Thus the result would be that he will burn in Hell for all eternity. That’s the same punishment (barring unknown conversions) that Hitler and Carl Sagan are now receiving–according to Saline. It’s sad too because Saline really liked Sagan. Oh Well. And this proves a just and loving God? IMO, that God is a monster and doesn’t deserve worship.

To, admittedly, make a big sweeping generalization here, the whole Fundie Christian viewpoint is all about punishment and very little about love. They’d rather execute 99 innocent people than run the risk of a real murderer getting off. They’d rather arm everybody risking the deaths of lots of innocent bystanders as long as some criminals die as well. They would rather that children starve than risk having somebody cheat on the food stamp program. They’d rather the whole world grow up ignorant than risk somebody questioning the Bible and their authority. They’d rather the woman submit to her husband’s will rather than deciding issues regarding her own welfare for herself.

Saline will probably say that he doesn’t wish for these outcomes. Yet when you try to make public policy guided by the absolute certainty of your religious beliefs, these are the results you can expect.

* Woody Allen’s comedy is not everybody’s cup of tea but I like it. There’s another layer of irony here, which I’m sure wasn’t intended. The would-be girlfriend here is played by Mia Farrow. Clifford also seems to be real close to his teenage niece in the movie.

I responded on 2-27-13:

Olphart, thank you taking the time to get the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Woody Allen and sitting down and watching it. I have told all my friends that it is one of Woody Allen’s best movies ever. I would say the Allen movie “Midnight in Paris” is a close second to this movie and it also tackles a tough issue which is the “Golden Age Fallacy.” I have actually posted about each one of the historical characters mentioned in that movie and the list includes over 2 dozen writers and painters that spent time in Paris in the 1920’s.
Here is a link to all the postings:
https://thedailyhatch.org/2012/02/27/woody-…

After watching such an enjoyable film as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” you admit that the film brings up some very tough questions but then you don’t get around to answering them. Let me refresh your memory concerning some of the big questions.

1. How could Judah have removed his troublesome mistress from his life without killing her and avoid being thrown in jail and losing his marriage?

A reviewer in NY said that just a weekend away with the mistress would have made thing blow over but Allen set up the plot in such a way that a quick polite fix would not be possible.

2. Does Allen have a valid point that a person with a strong belief in the afterlife would have turned himself in but if there is no afterlife then why turn yourself in because you got off “scott free” like Aunt May said in the movie about Hitler?

Woody Allen knew what he was doing in this film and he was showing that without God and an afterlife then there is no reason not to murder!!!!

3. Is there any way to find lasting meaning to our lives if God does not exist?

Professor Levy is a humanist professor who Allen talks about throughout the film because he hopes to put his life together for a PBS special and he even talks to PBS people about this. Levy believes that even though there is no God we may find value in our short unhappy lives. Later in the film Allen is distressed when Professor Levy kills himself and leaves a note that says “I went out the window.”

That reminds me of what the humanist leader H. J. Blackham said, “On humanist assumptions [the assumption that there is no God and life has evolved by time and chance alone], life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does notis a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance andends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, oneafter another they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads to nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere. . . It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all . . . such a situation is a model of futility (H. J. Blackham et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).)

4. Does might make right in an impersonal universe?

Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:

“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt May

Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

__________

Olphart, thank you for taking time to watch the movie and I welcome anybody that wishes to answer these questions. However, I must point out that I have interacted with many atheists on this during the last 20 years and very few are willing to answer any of these 4 questions because they have no moral system that would be able to reason with Judah because they know that Judah is right that if he could get away with it then that is the best course of action for him since there is no enforcement factor such as an afterlife to worry about.

Martin Landau who played Judah said that several men told him that they were in the same situation as Judah and wished they had taken his path instead of paying the piper.

The outlier commented:

“…without God and an afterlife then there is no reason not to murder!!!!”—Saline

Saline, anyone who needs the hopes of heaven or fears of hell to not murder is one sick @%$#!

You need to expand your reading to include more than the bible. You could start with evolutionary biology and altruism to start. I’m not going to waste my time pointing to specific articles for you. Everything you read is through the prism of the bible anyway.

Everyone is not a psychopath or even a sociopath. Maybe most xtian fundies are if they can’t behave themselves unless threatened with eternal damnation. Even then, they give themselves an out by allowing for 11th hour come to Jesus confessions.

Verla Sweere observed:

Saline wouldn’t recognize “God” if she knocked on his door.
Norma and Outier both recognize that, but the guy does push buttons. He has more problems than faith to worry about.

I responded on 2-27-13:

Does anyone want to actually try to answer any of these four questions?

1. How could Judah have removed his troublesome mistress from his life without killing her and avoid being thrown in jail and losing his marriage?

A reviewer in NY said that just a weekend away with the mistress would have made thing blow over but Allen set up the plot in such a way that a quick polite fix would not be possible.

2. Does Allen have a valid point that a person with a strong belief in the afterlife would have turned himself in but if there is no afterlife then why turn yourself in because you got off “scott free” like Aunt May said in the movie about Hitler?

3. Is there any way to find lasting meaning to our lives if God does not exist?

4. Does might make right in an impersonal universe?

So far I have received these thoughtful answers to my four questions:

The outlier, “Saline, anyone who needs the hopes of heaven or fears of hell to not murder is one sick #%$&!”

Verla Sweere, ” Saline has more problems than faith to worry about.”

Norma Bates:
Further, it exposes the hideous worldview of human beings by these hateful, idiotic mouthpieces for “God,” including Huckabee, Robertson, Graham, et al. Turns out they actually believe that without superstitions men and women will “revert” to their “true” state–which is murder, rape and mayhem.

In psychology, that phenomenon is called “projection.”

Maybe that’s true for Saline, Huckabee, Robertson, Graham, et al., but certainly not true of humankind as a whole, by any historic scientific measures.
___________________

Verla Sweere and the outlier both have no moral basis for telling Judah that he should not kill his mistress but deep down they know it is wrong because of their God-given conscience.

The basic question Woody Allen is presenting to his own agnostic humanistic worldview is: If you really believe there is no God there to punish you in an afterlife, then why not murder if you can get away with it? The secular humanist worldview that modern man has adopted does not work in the real world that God has created. God “has planted eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This is a direct result of our God-given conscience. The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 1:19, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God has shown it to them” (Amplified Version).

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” The Humanist, May/June 1997, pp.38-39). Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-givne conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (The Humanist, September/October 1997, p. 2.). Humanists don’t really have an intellectual basis for saying that Hitler was wrong, but their God-given conscience tells them that they are wrong on this issue.

 ————-
 “1. How could Judah have removed his troublesome mistress from his life without killing her and avoid being thrown in jail and losing his marriage?”Judah’s rabbi suggested that he confess all to his wife and, with God’s help, his marriage would be made stronger over time. I agree with the rabbi except there will be no help from God. Judah and his wife might have a faith that could help them however. I know you probably disagree with the Rabbi who, obviously, has not been born again. The suggestion is right there in the movie. Why don’t you mention this in your summation of the movie?2. “Does Allen have a valid point that a person with a strong belief in the afterlife would have turned himself in but if there is no afterlife then why turn yourself in because you got off “scott free” like Aunt May said in the movie about Hitler?The question was not answered in the movie. The question was presented overtly as a moral choice. Aunt May gave her answer and Aunt May was not portrayed as being particularly bright. There were other characters in the movie with different viewpoints. I guess the only answer which would have satisfied you would be a depiction of Judah dying, then his soul thrown into Hell and then about an hour of him screaming, gnashing his teeth and begging Jesus for forgiveness. Woody Allen didn’t do it that way, he left the question open. If you don’t like it, make your own movie but leave “Crimes and Misdemeanors” alone. You’ve grossly mis-characterized this movie.

3. “Is there any way to find lasting meaning to our lives if God does not exist? ”

Yes

4. “Does might make right in an impersonal universe?”

No

There, that’s it. I’ve answered all the questions on one page.

I responded on 2-27-13:

Olphart thank you for taking time to watch the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and respond to my four questions.
_____________
THE FIRST QUESTION is to make sure you understand the weight of the dilemma and you do.

“1. How could Judah have removed his troublesome mistress from his life without killing her and avoid being thrown in jail and losing his marriage?”

THE SECOND QUESTION calls for a judgement call on your part and you merely just cast doubt on Aunt May’s intelligence. She actually was a pinko liberal atheist and made a calculated moral judgement about “might being right” if a person has no problems with his conscience (i.e., Hitler). This is where the rubber hits the road because a person either agrees with Judah and Aunt May or they don’t. You do not address this except to say, “There were other characters in the movie with different viewpoints.” You know that you don’t want to answer that because I will ask you on what basis do you condemn Hitler and you don’t want to go there.

You also said, “You’ve grossly mis-characterized this movie.” I have not and you remind me of that reviewer in NY that said Judah could have smoothed thing over with his mistress and all would have been okay. That is a person that “grossly mis-characterized this movie.”

2. “Does Allen have a valid point that a person with a strong belief in the afterlife would have turned himself in but if there is no afterlife then why turn yourself in because you got off “scott free” like Aunt May said in the movie about Hitler?
_____________

YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION #3 is “yes” and that is acceptable if you can back it up, but frankly with a impersonal cold universe out there I don’t see how any secular person can back their assertion that there is a lasting meaning to their lives if God does not exist. That is the reason no one gets on and tries to even make that assertion. I salute you for doing so because you are one of the few brave people I have come across that will assert what they believe concerning this.

3. “Is there any way to find lasting meaning to our lives if God does not exist? ”

Yes
________
AGAIN THANKS FOR ANSWERING QUESTION NUMBER 4, but I don’t think anyone from a secular point of view can back that answer up.

4. “Does might make right in an impersonal universe?”

No
__________________________

Olphart you are a real gentlemen and I truly do respect your point of view. I recognize that you are a very well educated man that cares deeply about the important issue of our day. We need more people to leave their apathy behind and get involved. Thank you for your attempts to help others find their way.

Compassionate Engagement, Part 6: Schaeffer’s Enduring Influence

By Derek Brown on January 13, 2012

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

Francis Schaeffer’s enduring influence upon evangelicals and evangelicalism cannot be overlooked.  In great measure, Francis Schaeffer taught evangelicals the value of intellectual engagement.  While in Europe, Schaeffer began to see the fault of fundamentalism lying primarily in its strident separatism.  As he would interact with young unbelievers who were persuaded by nihilism, atheism, and existentialism, Schaeffer learned that merely attacking liberalism and other evangelicals was less than profitable.  He needed to provide a positive response to modern philosophies and thoughtfully interact with opposing ideas on the level of world-view so unbelievers could see the incoherence of their positions and subsequently embrace the truth of Christianity.

Schaeffer’s desire to demonstrate the reasonableness of Christianity to unbelievers led him to begin to think more and more about how world-views had played a significant role in the formation of Western thought and culture.  As such, Schaeffer sought to engage with and think critically about past and present culture; not for its own sake, but so he might listen to the voice of those who were drowning in meaninglessness because they had embraced a world-view that erased the existence of a personal God—a world-view that inevitably led to the loss of a sense of humanness and overall purpose.

Schaeffer’s endeavor to wrestle with ancient and contemporary culture, especially in the realm of ideas and world-view, would have a tremendous influence on how Christians thought about and interacted with culture.  Ronald Nash summarizes his impact in this area well when he writes,

Francis Schaeffer was the instrument through whom hundreds of thousands of people became conscious of [the] intellectual dimension of the Christian faith, of the importance of philosophy, of the significance of world views and their presuppositions, of the message that ideas have consequences (Parkhurst, 69).

Among these hundreds of thousands to be profoundly influenced by Schaeffer would belong Christian apologists, philosophers and authors.  Nancy Pearcy, popular editor and author, tells of her trip to L’Abri and how she was immediately intrigued by Christians who were engaged with the intellectual and cultural world.  As she read works by Christian apologists and interacted with Schaeffer and others at L’Abri, Pearcy interacted with many good and sufficient arguments that did much to challenge her unbelief (Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth, 55).  Pearcy would eventually embrace Jesus Christ and a biblical world-view.

Pearcy also notes how Schaeffer provided her and other Christians with the apparatus with which to properly enjoy and accurately evaluate culture.  She writes,

There is no need to avoid the secular world and hide out behind the walls of an evangelical subculture; instead, Christians can appreciate works of art and culture as products of human creativity expressing the image of God.  On the other hand, there is no danger of being naïve or uncritical about false and dangerous messages embedded in secular culture, because a worldview gives the conceptual tools needed to analyze and critique them (Pearcy, 56).

Pearcy here testifies to what Barry Hankins believes was Schaeffer’s “signal achievement and most lasting influence;” namely, the “important task of world-view formation” (Hankins, 227).

On the other hand, we would be remiss if we did not reflect here on what motivated Schaeffer in his whole enterprise.  It was not merely an interest in ideas; it was love for people.  Bryan Follis guards us from turning Francis Schaeffer into a stuffy, intellectually smug apologist when he writes, “To understand Schaeffer, we need to understand the love he had for the individual person” (Follis, Truth with Love, 53).  Love for others appeared to free Schaeffer to engage the surrounding culture for the sake of people’s good and salvation.  As Schaeffer traveled to America and shared his message with young evangelicals, his point was unmistakable in this regard.  Barry Hankins notes,

…[Schaeffer’s] message to American evangelical college students was that to be effective witnesses they would have to move beyond fundamentalist separation from secular ideas and beyond mere denunciation of liberals.  Instead, evangelicals needed to take their ideas seriously and to understand and engage their culture (Hankins, 233).

Schaeffer would not merely seek to understand and exhibit the impotence of unbiblical world-views; he would sympathize with and weep over those who struggled desperately with the essential questions of life—even if their answers came in the form of unbelieving, incoherent philosophy, art, and poetry—and he encouraged following generations of evangelicals to do the same.

I truly believe that many of the problems we have today in the USA are due to the advancement of humanism in the last few decades in our society. Ronald Reagan appointed the evangelical Dr. C. Everett Koop to the position of Surgeon General in his administration. He partnered with Dr. Francis Schaeffer in making the video below. It is very valuable information for Christians to have.  Actually I have included a video below that includes comments from him on this subject.

In the film series “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?” the arguments are presented  against abortion (Episode 1),  infanticide (Episode 2),   euthenasia (Episode 3), and then there is a discussion of the Christian versus Humanist worldview concerning the issue of “the basis for human dignity” in Episode 4 and then in the last episode a close look at the truth claims of the Bible.

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 3) DEATH BY SOMEONE’S CHOICE

Published on Oct 6, 2012 by

Dr. C. Everett Koop pictured above.

__________

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